Sunday, December 30, 2018

A new camera, an old friend

Right around Christmas Day, my well-used point-and-swear camera died irreparably. I love having a small pocket camera for hikes and walks and everyday use, and so it became a priority to replace it. The day before yesterday (having finally got my car back from being repaired where someone backed into it while it was parked outside my home in early December), I headed into Nanaimo and bought a new point-and-swear.
Those who remember my frustrations with the last one when I bought it two years ago (yeah, I'm hard on cameras - stuff them in my pocket full of dog cookies and sand, take a zillion pictures every couple of days, never use a case for them......two years is a good run for me!), may be surprised to know I bought exactly the same kind (despite the swearing), just a newer version of the same model. I now own a Sony DSC-HX80, to replace my 2016 Sony DSC-HX60.
This is my third Sony, and I stuck with Sony for a few reasons:
1. I have test driven several other point and shoots over the years (Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Fuji) and never liked the results as much as I do with the Sony.
2. Sony has the best frames-per-second for continuous shooting [for capturing moving dogs or birds or whatever] of any compact point and shoot out there, by far. I liked the Canon point and shoots very much - nice sharp pictures, bright colours , extremely compact size - but their frames per second sucks at a lousy 2.5 fps compared to Sony's 10 fps.
3. This time, Sony hasn't changed the basic features as much as last time, so there should be a lot less swearing.
4. The changes they have made are awesome - a flip-screen for capturing things low down without lying on your tummy and which also can be used for selfies, and a pop-up view finder which I have been wanting point and shoots to add for years! Last time around, there was only one compact camera on the market with a view finder, and it was so big it wouldn't have fit in even the biggest pocket of my oversized clothing. Despite adding a view finder, Sony has also made this year's model a little more compact so it fits in my sandy, dog-cookie-filled pocket even better than the old one.
So, buying another Sony was rather like welcoming an old friend who just gets better with age.
I welcomed another 'old friend' today - my ever-so-talented artist friend Deb Strong and her dog Lily, on their way to visit family. Deb's work as an artist blows me away, and I was once again thrilled to receive a copy of her calendar which brings me great joy every month of the year.
Even though I hadn't had time to set up the camera just how I like it, I had to take it along with me when we took the dogs down to the beach.
So here are a few preliminary shots with the new camera, based on the factory settings and right out of the box. I'd say it's a keeper - just like my friends Deb and Lily.
Deb offers Lily a little gift from Maggie and me.

Lily carried her new ball all the way to the beach, where the ball-obsessed girl was happy to chase it. 

Maggie found Lily's actions with the ball fascinating, and thought she might like to join in too - or at least run run run as far as she could.
Sorry, Maggie, no off leash time for you on that beach yet.

It was a gorgeous day, and the mountains across the strait
showed their snow-covered caps.

Lily, waiting for Deb to throw the ball......again.

I got it! I got it!  Here I come!
Hopefully, over the next week I'll find time to adjust the settings a bit and then it will be time to get serious about photographing our new community.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Who's a good dog?

I am! I am! Okay, Mama always tells me I'm a good dog,  but I know mamas have to say that, and the real test is if Santa thinks so too.  And he does! He does! He brought me prezzies!

I'm a good dog! 

When I woke up Christmas morning, I went to the kitchen for my breakfast, and then while Mama was making her coffee I ambled into the living room, and WHOA - sniff, sniff, sniff - SUMBODY LEFT TREATS AND STUFF IN MY STOCKING! And I know it was Santa, because he even left his hat full of stuff for me!

Snuffle snuffle snuffle

Ohhh....Santa left his hat with presents in it too!
I told Mama my stocking was kinda small! 

My mama heard me snufflin' around, but she was waiting fer the coffee, so I took a chew stick out of the stocking and carried it to the kitchen door to show mama.  Then I dropped it and sat like a good girl until Mama said I could eat it.  She didn't even have to tell me to sit or drop it. Mama was quite amazed with my restraint.  But she didn't have the camera in the kitchen so didn't get a photo of me being extra-special-good.

Then mama helped me check out the rest of the gifts.  I got more treats (dried sardines - yum! and Mini Zukes) and a new Gulpy water bottle that is smaller than my big summertime one, perfect for little walks and winter hikes. And I got a flashy new necklace that glows bright red (and even lights up my furs) for our evening walks.  My little red light that clips on my harness was too small and kept getting buried in fur, but this one, called Nite Howl, is terrific and everyone we meet comments on it.  You can only just see it in this picture, cause it was daytime, but it glows really, really brightly in the night.

My Nite Howl collar even turns all my white ruff pink
when we walk at night! 

I also got a new Outward Hound Fun Feeder - it's the purple dish in the pictures.  It's smaller than my big orange feeder bowl, and not quite as hard for me to get stuff from.  I like it! (Mama does too, because it isn't as difficult to wash).  And my favourite gift from Mama was a Kong Quest.  See that green toy?  Mama can put treats in here and I wobble it to get them out.  AND it is one of the few toys mama can put my raw food into for play time (cuz sometimes when my allergies are really bad, that's all I can have till they clear up).

Wibble wobble, wibble wobble.
Gotta get this dried sardine outta here! 

After we checked out all the presents, we went for a long, long walk all along the beach.  The tide was in, so there was no sand for me but we went as far as we could go, and then all around town.  It was a very nice morning.  Then we went home and snacked and mama read and yakked on the phone and we had a nice lazy day.

I hope you had a nice Christmas Day and all your dogs and cats and birds and piggies and other critters got something from Santa and  you got to spend time with the peoples/critters you love.

Love , Maggie.  XX00XX

Monday, December 24, 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Take Four

Mama sez Santa and the reindeer might need extra help this year, what with all the winds and rains and so many areas here still without power to light the way, so I is getting ready!  

Friday, December 21, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmassy photo, Take Two

Me:  Oh, Maggie, we're never going to get a good photo for this year's Christmas blog!
Maggie:  Ya could try leavin' the costumes in the box, Mom! Hazn't ya ever heard of Photoshop?

Friday, December 14, 2018


Mama, how many more sleeps until Christmas?
And can I please haz a bigger stocking?

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Piggies' Empty Stockings

Remember Scotch, Soda, and their ten little piglets - the family I fostered for Hearts on Noses Pig Sanctuary from 2007-2009?  Soda passed away this fall, but the rest are doing well at the Sanctuary along with their many piggy friends - forty three of them in all!

If you are stuck for gift ideas for the people who have everything, or if you hate shopping as much as I do, or if you just want to reduce over-the-top consumerism and subsequent waste and environmental impact........making a donation to one or more of the amazing charities out there is a great way to make a positive contribution to the world.  And if you enjoyed my many stories of life with the critters, perhaps you'll consider one of the rescues or sanctuaries that I've mentioned frequently in this blog.  Like Hearts on Noses.

Belle herding all the piglets in 2007

I hear rumors that the piggies have written their letters to Santa Claus and what they are hoping for is stockings full of money to pay for food and veterinary care and soft warm straw and maybe even a few treats.  In fact, they are hoping to find a total of $100 in each stocking Christmas morning.

My former foster piggies checking out the empty pan

Hearts on Noses has created a fundraiser page with 43 squares - one with each pig's name on it.  When a stocking reaches $100, that square turns green.  Of course, I'm partial to Scotch and the kiddies (now seniors!), so I stuffed a little into each of their stockings.  I'm hoping some of my followers on the blog might add a little more.  If you use the page to donate through Canada Helps, your tax receipt is issued automatically and immediately. In the message part, just tell my friends at Hearts on Noses, which pig's stocking your money is to go into.  The link is at the end of this post.

RobRoy's wondering if Santa is hiding in the shed

If your memory is failing, or if you are new to the blog but still want to help, the names of my former fosters are:  Scotch, Whisper, RobRoy, Tom, Lizzie, Derby, Toddy, Fizzy,, Rickey, Mica and Switzer (those last two were called Swizzle and Spritzer when I was fostering them.....somehow their names were changed over the years!)

Treats for my babies

I don't get over to the sanctuary very often, but every time I go there I am awed at the progress Janice and her amazing team of volunteers have made  - they provide an awesome, beautiful, safe haven for 43 very happy pigs and a few other critters as well. Let's make their Christmas special.

Visions of sugarplums dance in his head 

Here's the link to their page - just follow the directions on there:

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Happy 14th Birthday, Emma!

A happy, happy 14th birthday to my beloved Emma, who lives the life of a spoiled, happy lab (is there any other kind?) with her dad who keeps me posted on her well-being.  May she continue to enjoy her treats, her toys, her scritches, her pals (human and canine) for a long time to come.  Love ya, Ems! 💗
Baby Emma

Senior Emma

Friday, November 23, 2018

Mama and Me. Posted by Maggie.

Enough is enough.  I know my mama has some photos ready to post but I can see her snoozing in her recliner AGAIN, so I will just take my dainty little paws and  place them on her 'puter and post for her.  We's been here over a month already and she hazn't even shown you what we've been up to!

Mah Beach, by Tour Guide Maggie

We live a couple of blocks from the beach, so nearly every day we go down there for an hour or so.  I love this beach - there is lots and lots and lots of good sand!

Lotsa sand!
Sometimes the sand has firm little ridges all over it, and sometimes it is smooth as silk.  And sometimes there are little islands in the ocean, or pretty shapes where the ocean hugs the sand or the sunlight tiptoes across the shallows and over the sandbars.

In the morning, Mama often makes me walk around town first before we head to the beach - there are lots of noises I wasn't used to, like beeping things and roaring things and clanking things, as well as fast moving things and unfamiliar peoples and unfamiliar dogs.  And squirrels!  There is LOTS of squirrels here.  They is almost as good at grabbing my attention as ducks! Maybe better. I don't have a picture of squirrels to show you, but mama did take this photo of one of the places we pass on our way to the beach - pretty fall leaves shining in early morning light.

There is a long boardwalk here, just like the seawalk in Crofton except closer to the ground.  Sometimes we see my new friend Buddy there - he is a cocker spaniel who is old and blind and so mostly he rides in a stroller.  He's nice, and so are his pals that he walks with - human and canine.  Mama likes the houndy dog best because he always bays at her and makes her laugh. 

My favourite new dog friend, though, is Gideon.  He is just little, and he loves to run on the sand just like me.  We see him almost every day.  He's in this picture with his human, but mama still has to take some close up shots of him.

Here's me on the beach again.  Did I mention I love the beach?

It was a little bit breezy that day.  Mama likes the breezy days, partly because there is a big kite-flying field (um, that's a field where you can fly kites, not a field that flies kites hahaha!) by the beach, and mama loves to watch the kites zoom and soar and dive and soar some more. Mama has always loved kites, even when she was just a little girl and tried to make them out of sticks and newspaper and string.

I bet mama's newspaper ones never flew like this! 

Sometimes when we go to the beach the ocean has swallowed up all the sand!  I don't like that because then I have to walk on the boardwalk and mama won't let me bark and run there in case I disturb others.  But sometimes the sand is there, with puddles on it, and I can see buildings in the puddles!

Looky!  There's a building under the sand! 

Hahahaha!  I loves the beach! 

I have become very brave here and even go walking in the dark now.  I walk for an hour or two in the morning, and another half hour or more at night.  And I go hiking with mama as well.  You'd think we'd both be skinny with all that walking, but I get lots of treats because I'm learning so many new things and meeting so many new people and dogs.  I don't know what mama's excuse is for not getting skinny - I suspect she's getting lots of treats too - there are some very nice food stores here! But I digress.....I was talking about hiking. Mostly we've gone hiking at the same places we went before - in Nanaimo or thereabouts.  This week we went to Ermineskin Nature Park near here, but mama hasn't done those photos yet.  Here's the photos from some of the familiar hikes we've done this month:

Reflections in one of the lakes at Colliery Dam Park

Colliery Dam Park in Nanaimo.  I was very brave to cross that narrow
bridge over a river-filled ravine without hesitation! 

Hemer Provincial Park, in south Nanaimo. 
We met Auntie Pat and the Poms here as it's about
halfway between our homes now.
Linley Valley and Cottle Lake Park in Nanaimo.
Mama and Auntie Sally got a little muddled finding our way
around this one, because the trails aren't marked very well!

Moorecroft Park, Nanoose Bay
This one is just a short drive from where we live now. 

One day Auntie Pat and Uncle Guy and ALL THREE POMS came to visit.  We all went for a walk on the beach.  It was Parker's first time on the beach, but mama forgot her camera.  She took some pictures with Auntie Pat's camera but Auntie Pat must be snoozing in her recliner too because she hasn't posted them yet, so mama couldn't steal one to show you.

There have been a lot of strange people in our house, besides some of the new neighbours.  There's been furniture coming in and furniture going out and appliances coming in and appliances going out, and I've visited a new groomer already, but I haven't met my new vet yet. Mama sez that will be very soon. We still isn't all settled in yet - there's still pictures to be hung, and a couple of piece of new furniture to arrive, and a new dishwasher to be installed.  But we is getting there.  I don't care though - I just wanna spend time at the beach.  Did I mention I love the beach?

Most days there is lots of sand, and we walk waaaay far out.  We go quite early, so we see lots of birds - eagles and herons and ducks and gulls and hundreds of tiny little ones that mama things are sandpipers but there are also bigger ones among them that look more like plovers or dowitchers.  Mama can't get too close to get a good picture likes to bark and go after them, even though I'm always on a leash or longline. Then they fly away, and mama says "Ohhh Maggie!" with a big sigh.  Sometimes there are hundreds and zillions of the little birds, and they are beige on one side and white on the other, and when they fly the whole flock rolls from one side to the other so you see all beige and then all white, like airyplanes doing fancy tricks!

I think these are some of the bigger birdies, not the teeny ones.

Birdies in flight, showing their white bellies

We sees lots of eagles here, just like we did at our old place.

And herons too!

What?  You gotta get to work now?  But I waz just gettin' started! 

Okay, well, I think I hear mama calling me, so I better get down from the desk.  Maybe it is time for my pills.  And a treat.  I hope you enjoyed a look at our first month in Parksville.

I loves my beach!
See ya again soon! 
Love, Maggie.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Maggie in leaves

Dear Readers:
Mah mama seems to be either toooooo busy to post or too I will just post this photo of  li'l ol' me from a hike we did on Monday.  Mother Nature was so kind to coordinate the colours of fallen leaves with mah furs. 
And you can do your bit by nagging Mama to get another proper post up real soon! 
Lotsa love, Maggie.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Farewell Crofton, Hello Parksville!

In 2016 when I tore the meniscus in my left knee, and 2017 when I took a bad fall on the ice and wrecked my right shoulder (leaving me unable to drive for quite a while, and permanently unable to do some of the home/yard maintenance stuff I'd always done for myself), I realized the pitfalls of living in a small village (population 1200) that has very few shops - two convenience stores, one thrift store, a couple of cafes and pubs.  No drug store, no hardware, no department store, no place to get any significant variety of groceries. No medical services.  Yes, there is a small city about twenty minutes away (population 5,000 for the city itself, and another 28,000 in the surrounding municipal area), but the bus service to get there is tedious and infrequent, taxis from there are expensive and seldom available, and there is no handi-dart service (a bus/taxi sort of system for seniors and others with disabilities) for Crofton.  And it is rather too far to walk.

"It's a long way to see the doctor...."

I don't want to be 'that senior' whose very small and geographically distant family has to make the difficult decision to move me to another living situation.  So I began the search for another home, one where there is no outside maintenance required (a condo or strata), in a place where there are more shops and services - preferably within walking distance of the ocean. I so love.

After an extensive search made more difficult by the ridiculous 'no pet' or 'one small pet' (often under 10 lbs!) policy that many seniors' condos/strata have, I finally just took the plunge, put my house on the market, sold it in 48 hours, and - much to my relief - found an appropriate place an hour and a bit north, in Parksville.  More about our new home in another post. (I have not been taking photos on our many walks as Maggie needs all my attention to keep her safe and calm amid traffic, beeping crosswalks, unfamiliar people and dogs, etc.   - that's no time to be staring through the lens of a camera.  As many of you know, there are few things I feel more strongly about than keeping dogs safe in new surroundings - or keeping dogs safe, period.) 

Maggie: "This is my beach now!"
(Photo taken a few months ago, before we moved)

But before shifting the blog to daily life in Parksville and our exploration of the parks and beaches around our new home, I wanted to thank the great people in Crofton who welcomed me nearly ten years ago, greeted me on my morning walks with my various old dogs, foster dogs, multiple dogs, scared dogs, visiting dogs.  My current anxiety-prone senior dog, Maggie, will miss her canine friends and their peoples, who respected her boundaries and took the necessary time to earn her trust.

Crofton has much going for it, not the least of which is its beauty - beauty in nature, in the sea, in the sunrises and sunsets, in the people.  Over the years, I've taken literally thousands of photos of this community and its surrounds.  Here, then, as my farewell tribute to Crofton, are just a few of my favourites:

From the moment  I arose,  no matter the season or the weather, the beauty of the sun rising over the bay filled me with awe:

Throughout the day, the birds and animals, the parks and shoreline, even the industry at the mill and log sort, provided me with slices of joy, peace, an assurance that there was still magic and beauty to be found in a world so oft gone crazy:

Eagle, Anna's humming bird, oystercatchers, Northern flicker.

Bear in fall and deer in winter

Heron soaring to the sky

Raven wishing us good luck

Crofton Lake, Sea Walk in fall, Eves Park, Lilies on Crofton Lake

Boat by a foggy pier
(taken when Spinnaker Steps went all the way to the water)

Boats in the harbour,
reflections in the water

Barges, tugs, and cargo ships

Fishing boat with colourful floats

The people - oh the people - young and old, laboring in fields or selling goods in front yards and pop up stalls, playing with their dogs, or going for a paddle around the bay or a walk on the beach - seldom did I meet one who did not treat me kindly, smile and say good morning, or stop for a chat.  I came to your town nearly ten years ago having only a slight acquaintance with a couple of people, and I am leaving behind many friends.  Thank you, Crofton.

Tatlo Farms when it was just beginning

Friends on Crofton waterfront

George peddling his figs near the ferry terminal

The dog-human connection
on a misty morning

Heading out into the bay

I have loved learning the history of this town - from the elders, from the information in our little museum, from columns in newspapers (and, before that, the town newsletter),  from story boards in parks, from locals who stopped to chat.  For five years, together with Liz Maxwell Forbes, I shared some of these stories in a column in the Chemainus Courier, and each column brought more stories to my attention, from more people who enriched my life so greatly.

Crofton Museum 

And at the end of each day, I felt comforted in the knowledge that  my move to Crofton, away from family and friends and all that was familiar, had been a good move, the right move,  a wonderful chapter of my life.  I can only hope that my new community will be as welcoming and as comforting and as full of good people who will soon become good friends, in this next chapter.

Thank you, Crofton,  You have been good to me.

We all sleep under the same moon,
We all rise to the same sun.
We are never any further away than a warm heart and a pleasant thought.